Centre for Development Impact

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation, through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs. It is a joint initiative between IDS, ITAD and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Mobile health team visiting rural communities, South Africa. Credit: Giacomo Pirozzi / Panos

Debates around impact evaluation have received renewed interest in recent years. Alongside a growing pressure on politicians and policymakers to demonstrate results and value for money, conventional evaluation approaches are being critiqued for lacking in rigour, and/or being too narrowly focused and unable to capture complexity. CDI's work will help to broaden the range of evaluation designs and methods, providing funders and evaluators alike with valuable insights and tools to measure and understand impact.

Our current focus is on:

  • Exploring a wide range of evaluation designs and methods, including complexity theory, systems thinking and different approaches to causal inference, in order to understand what works, for whom, why, and in what context.
  • Designing appropriate methodologies for evaluating complex interventions in challenging contexts, such as: interventions in emergent, dynamic and uncertain situations (such as conflict), those that are multi-sectoral in nature (like nutrition or empowerment), and those not readily amenable to counterfactual construction (such as value chains).
  • Better understanding the realities of the evaluation process, such as when evaluations are conducted under severe resource (or other) constraints, the politics of evaluation, and the use of evidence.

We achieve this through:

  1. Doing evaluations that provide scope for innovation in a particular domain;
  2. Doing research on evaluations, including meta-research and meta-evaluations; and,
  3. Developing and delivering training and learning programmes.

CDI is a joint initiative between IDS, ITAD and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Visit our dedicated website to find out more: www.cdimpact.org

Members from ITAD

Members from UEA

Independent Impact Evaluation Agent (IIEA) for Tilitonse, Malawi

This Independent Impact Evaluation aims to measure the impact of Tilitonse, formerly the Civil Society Governance Fund, in Malawi. It is a challenging area for impact evaluation as the anticipated 'impacts' are likely to require a shift in power relations, and are likely to be transformative over a longer period of time. More details

New Frontiers for Evaluation

An unprecedented revolution has swept over the development scene since the turn of the century: it is market-led and emphasizes the mobilization of private energies, funds and skills. A brand new cast of influential development actors is transforming the state aid monopoly. The development evaluation discipline, shaped by public sector concerns, has not kept pace with this deep-seated transformation. It has failed to deliver adequate and timely evidence about development impact. Nor has it addressed the basic fiduciary concerns associated with private sector funding or tapped the promise of the new information technologies. More details

Increasing Transparency in Smallholder Supply Chains: Comparing Approaches to Monitoring Performance of Investments and Private Sector Participation

For this DfID-funded project, we will be providing a synthesis of the types of monitoring, evaluation and data being used by investors and the private sector in agricultural supply chains in a developing country context. More details

View all Research Centre's publications

Use this search to display this centre's publications and filter by journal, theme, country and much more.


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This is the cover for IDS Bulletin 45.6, 'Rethinking Impact Evaluation for Development'.

Rethinking Impact Evaluation for Development

IDS Bulletin 45.6 (2014)

This IDS Bulletin presents a 'rallying cry' for impact evaluation to rise to the challenges of a post-MDG/post-2015 world. It is the first of two issues that follow a workshop entitled 'Impact, Innovation and Learning: Towards a Research and Practice Agenda for the Future', held at IDS in March 2013. More details

ER79 Front Cover

Designing a Mixed-Method Impact Evaluation for a Mobile Phone Application for Nutrition Service Delivery in Indonesia

IDS Evidence Report 79 (2014)

Child undernutrition remains one of the most devastating realities in many parts of the world. The use of mobile phone technology may offer innovative opportunities to tackle persistently high levels of child undernutrition. More details

CDIPP7 Front Cover

Improving Co-benefits and 'Triple Win' Impacts from Climate Action: The Role of Guidance Tools

CDI Practice Paper 7 (2014)

This addresses the role of tools in supporting interventions to achieve the ‘triple wins’ of adaptation, mitigation and development. More details

This is the cover to CDI Practice Paper 6, 'Evaluating Outside the Box: Mixing Methods in Analysing Social Protection Programmes'.

Evaluating Outside the Box: Mixing Methods in Analysing Social Protection Programmes

CDI Practice Paper 6 (2014)

This CDI Practice Paper reflects on the methodological implications of operationalising an expanded framework for evaluating social protection programmes. More details

Teaser image for Millennium Villages Impact Evaluation summary report

Millennium Villages Impact Evaluation, Baseline Summary Report

This report presents the baseline findings from the Department for International Development (DFID)-commissioned impact evaluation of the Millennium Village Project (MVP) in Northern Ghana.1 The project will run from 2012 until 2016, with interventions targeting a cluster of communities with a total population of approximately 27,000 people. More details

Image Teaser for ER18

Impact, Innovation and Learning: Towards a Research and Practice Agenda for the Future – Event Report

IDS Evidence Report 18 (2013)

This report brings together notes and highlights from the International Workshop organised by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton on 26–27 March 2013. More details

Image Teaser for CDI PP4

Impact Evaluation when N=1

CDI Practice Paper 4 (2013)

A common presumption holds that when there is only one unit of observation, such as in the case of a national-level policy or a small scale intervention, causality cannot be established and impact evaluation methods do not apply. More details

Image Teaser for CDI Practice Paper 03, 'Implementing Development Evaluations under Severe Resource Constraints' by Richard Longhurst

Implementing Development Evaluations under Severe Resource Constraints

CDI Practice Paper 3 (2013)

Most agency evaluations are very short both on resources and in duration, with no proper opportunity to assess impact in a valid manner. More details

Image for CDI Practice Paper No2 Natural Experiments: An Underappreciated
Evaluation Resource?

Natural Experiments: An Under-appreciated Evaluation Resource?

CDI Practice Paper 2 (2013)

This CDI Practice Paper explores some of the roles that natural experiments have played in evaluation and considers their potential and limitations and the prospects for their wider use. More details

IDS publications on international development research

An Impact Evaluation Design for the Millennium Village Project in Northern Ghana

Journal of Development Effectiveness (2013)

This Initial Design Document sets out the conceptual approach and methodological for the independent impact evaluation a new Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Impact Evaluation of a new Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana - Overall Assessment

This document provides an independent Overall Assessment, published by 3ie, of Initial Design Document of the Impact Evaluation of the new Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana. More details

This is the cover for CDI Practice Paper 1, 'Improving the Evaluability of INGO Empowerment and
Accountability Programmes'.

Improving the Evaluability of INGO Empowerment and Accountability Programmes

CDI Practice Paper 1 (2013)

This CDI Practice Paper is based on an analysis of international NGO (INGO) evaluation practice in empowerment and accountability (E&A) programmes. It reviews evaluation debates and their implications for INGOs. More details

IDS Working Paper

Shifting Power? Assessing the Impact of Transparency and Accountability Initiatives

IDS Working Paper 383 (2011)

This paper arises from a review of the impact and effectiveness of transparency and accountability initiatives which gathered and analysed existing evidence, discussed how it could be improved, and evaluated how impact and effectiveness could be enhanced. More details

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CDI contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation

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